With particular emphasis on the emerging role of sentencing commissions, advisory councils or panels in a number of English speaking countries, this book brings together the theoretical perspectives on the role of the public in the development of sentencing policy.
Freiberg and Gelb expand and develop the existing literature that looks at public attitudes to justice and the role that the “public” can play in influencing policy. It asks the critical questions: even if “public opinion”, or preferably, “public judgment” can be ascertained in relation to a particular sentencing issue, should it be relevant to court decision-making, to institutional decision-making and to the political process? And if so, how?
For the first time, descriptions and analyses of new and proposed sentencing advisory bodies in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Scotland and South Africa are outlined and provided. Further, it adds to the knowledge in the field of public opinion by presenting practical examples of ways in which the public has a role in sentencing – illustrating the implementation of recommendations that have been made in existing research over the past few years. These recommendations have focussed on ways to improve public knowledge about the criminal justice system in order to counter political platforms and public outcries that are based on misinformation and misconceptions about the criminal justice system and in particular, about the nature of current sentencing practice.
The book is structured in two parts. Part 1 deals with general matters relating to public opinion: our knowledge of what it is or purports to be, and how that influences or shapes sentencing policy. Part 2 deals with the development, and nature of, sentencing councils and their roles vis a vis the public, government and courts.